tv Capital News Today CSPAN February 23, 2010 11:00pm-2:00am EST
why we have allowed this exemption to stay in place for so long. he testified in 2007 in front of the judiciary committee with that statement. this has broad appeal with many organizations as well. the repeal of 6 c13 >> buenas noches. bienvenidos a ultima funcion. el mejor bloque de peliculas. hoy tenemos drama, comedia y
roma. -- romance. >> esta pelicula esta bien viejas. >> tenemos que buscar otro tema. tenemos que ir a la diagonal de jadeo. su estreno fue en estados unidos. . >> a year when flst a lot of demand for bipartisanship. bipartisanship is a wonderful thing. we already have for bipartisanship and prevent us getting anything done. we already have the unanimous support, the attorneys general in 2007, as you mentioned, not a single dissenting voice that
this needed to be repealed. they want the resources to fight this. we have 97% of our health care markets are highly concentrated. president bush called a bipartisan blue ribbon commission together to look at the exemptions. they said there's no justification for these to exist. any arguments being made are anachronistic or only make sense inside the washington beltway. this is something where we need main street values, not washington collusion to go and challenge these and get competition back in the market. >> mr. perriello, you talked -- i heard mr. -- ms. markey talking about the market being concentrated. that simply states no choice. no choice for the consumer. that means a runaway with costs that are going to be so inflated. when you look at the stats out
there the big five insurance companies, you know, we look at that profit column and some 12-plus billion dollars, a 56% increase from calendar year 2008 to 2009. $12-plus billion. these are benefits that could be chaired -- shared, as you said. we understand it's a capitalist society. there are efforts out there, obviously, to be productive and ploftable. but $12 billion a 56% growth, when average household incomes are flatlined is difficult to absorb for our constituents, for consumers out there. then to look at the track record over the last decade from 2000 to 2009, to know that 250% increase was the outcome for profit, the time is more than passed. as all these commissions indicated, the association of attorneys general, all speaking
out in defense of this. it's no wonder everyone is promoting this reform. again, i want to congratulate the two of you for putting this measure out there, bringing it to the floor, so we can make a statement in a bipartisan fashion, we hope that tomorrow when this vote is taken, that there will be this effort to speak in defense of consumers who have taken it on the chin, these profit margins are cutting away at their own do-ability as a household. but can stretch that household budget by reducing insurance premium costs and that's what this effort is about, accountability, affordability, accessibility, quality of care. this is a major cornerstone of reform that's outside that package that we have been trying to assemble. this is something we can do immediately and as has been stated so many times over, without any cost to government. this is a win for the consumer public out there and they deserve this sort of effort because they've gone far too
long where this injustice has been allowed to occur, time and time again because of that exemption for any industry when all other industries are covered by the forces of the antitrust legislation of 65 years ago. so it's time for change, time for reform and i believe this brings balance to the equation and is the rightful thing to do mr. perriello: as mentioned, this snt about being anti-insurance. this is about being pro-consumer. it's well past time to put the patient first in health care reform. we heard some of our colleagues from the other side of the aisle talking about the need to protect the doctor-patient relationship. the doctor-patient relationship has been invaded for decades now. my sister, a pediatrician, many days spends more time on the phone with insurance companies
than patients. insurance companies whose profit motive is based on denying care rather than providing care. in a good, competitive mark, insurance companies will profit based on providing insurance to patient, not by highly concentrated markets. this is about putting that doctor back in control of karin stead of that insurance company back in control of care because through the free market we can ensure that consumers are moving toward the insurance company that are providing that care. this is about being pro-consumer and pro-patient and pro-competition with that. mr. tonko -- mr. garamendi: -- mr. garamendi: it's an axiom that competition leads to good things, lower prices and better product. but we've seen an increasing concentration in less and less competition. this bill will put competition
back into the health insurance sector. it's desperately needed. right new in california, with blue cross of california, where they have 80% of the market, they don't need to compete for the customers. the customers are desperate to get coverage and they've got to take whatever is being offered by a company that has 80% of the market. let's get some competition back in there. this is also an issue that affects individuals. i know a 23-year-old girl who is no longer on her parents' health insurance, cannot get health insurance, even though she's applied through blue cross, because she had acne. and the list of pre-existing conditions are three pages long. so if we have competition, by eliminating this antitrust exemption and forcing, ending the monopoly, i think companies are going to have to go out and search for customers and that would help us all. let us also be very, very --
i've spent eight years of my life regulating the insurance industry. i know this about that industry. it's about profit. it's not about people. now in the property-casualty business, it's important to pay attention to people. but it's not life or death in most cases. in the case of health insurance, it is about a human being's life. it's about the young lady that i saw at a town hall meeting this last week, 12-year-old girl, born with a heart condition, whose father cannot leave the job krks not go to a better job for fear of losing his health care. knowing that if he lost his health insurance, this young lady would not survive. she would lose her life. that's wrong and that's got to end. this bill is one small piece of the larger puzzle that we're working on to put in place in america a health care bill where people come before profit.
we can do that. we can do that with this bill and it will be very clear in this house tomorrow where we stand. do we stand with families? -- families who need health care? do we stand with individuals? do we stand with young gloria and her parents and say, end the monopoly. put the antitrust laws in place so the health insurance industry has to compete. that's our choice. we'll see tomorrow where we stand. do we follow the tradition of teddy roosevelt a republican, who went after the big corporations and said that in america, competition must be there. who fought back and pushed back against wall street. or do we stand with the health insurance industry. that's our choice tomorrow and it's there because two members of this house have put forth a bill, my colleague from virginia and my colleague from colorado and i thank you for
bringing this before us so that we can identify with the individuals who need health care or on the other hand with the insurance industry. >> this dynamic of competition as the gentleman makes mention -- mr. tonko: this dynamic of competition as the gentleman makes mention, is driven by the consumer. the competition is stymied because in my home state of new york, three insurers have asked for or sent dividends to corporate parents out of state that were just shy of $1 billion. just three groups. would they have the luxury to do this if they were pressured to compete, to hold on to their market? i don't think so. this year, those same three companies are looking to send $1.2 billion outside of the state to corporate parents. this is the sort of action that takes hold where you're not encouraging anybody to compete
to hold on to their market and we're exporting these billions of dollars, the state is not alone in that phenomenon, it's hurting the consumers of new york state because there's a mass exodus of dividends being paid out to corporate parent firms. you look at the record in new york and what has happened over a 10-year stretch from 1999 to 2009 and that amounts to some $5 billion worth. so this is a pattern that's becoming more and more pronounced, that is, again, not putting pressure on the system to respond in competitive measure and that dynamic, being pulled out of the equation, then causes hardship for the very people that we need to hold down costs for health care insurance. $1.2 billion requested this year from just three groups to send those dividends out of the state. these are reports that are
disturbing. these are the forces that are driving this thinking, to bring about the reform that is introduced in the perriello-markey legislation and again to our representatives here who have thought in such progressionive terms, i say thank you -- in such progressive terms, i say thank you. this will induce competition into the process and doesn't cost government a dime. i'm very happy that this effort is being made in this house and i applaud the sponsors and applaud all who are working to make this happen. >> mr. pe real roe -- mr. -- mr. garamendi: if i might, i am reminded against companies who brought action against companies in the state of new york who conspired against doctors to lower their rate of
reimbursement through the hospitals. that followed on the heels of another national case in which insurance companies, the largest insurance companies in this nation, also conspired against doctors in reducing their rates. a conspiracy. those kind of conspiracies are specifically outlawed by the antitrust laws of this nation. this bill, and i thank you so very much, mr. pe role rell low and ms. mar -- mr. perriello and ms. markey for bringing this bill, because eff evidence that exists in america today will be outlawed at the federal level. these other cases were brought in state courts where there are antitrust laws and prohibit these kinds of conspiracies to harm the consumers or the providers of services. ms. markey: i want to thank my colleague from california who has unique experience with the
industry and in this field and for your perspective on this and what -- my colleague from new york has talked about competition. it has been competition that's made this country great. i want to expand on that a little bit as well to talk about innovation. we've always been a country of entrepreneurs and innovators and when you have an industry, an entire sfri, that can set price -- industry that can set prices, can co-lewd with their partner, you have no -- can collude with their partners, you have no innovation in the industry. our republican colleagues were talking, one was talking about health savings accounts. i'm a supporter of health savings accounts as well. my sister and her husband wanted to get a health savings account with catastrophic health care but because of their age and because of where they live, they could not find an insurance company that would offer that type of product for them which would help them to
save money and bring transparency@system to know what they were spending their health care dollars on and many people want that option. they weren't able to get it because it was not available in their part of the country. and why? because there's no need to. there's absolutely no need -- there's absolutely no incentive for the insurance industry to innovate to change the system to offer new product, compete on prices. this is what the heart of this bill, this is what it gets to. it gets to competition and innovation in the system, which again is going to lower prices and we have all noted, doesn't cost the government a dime. we should be able to get bipartisan support on this legislation tomorrow. mr. perriello: you spoke about the issue of fairness as a basic principle, one thing i hear back home is why should there be one set of rules for people who write the checks to
politicians and another set of rules for the businesses back home that are working hard to keep people employed? the fact is, there shouldn't be a different set of rules for the insurance companies just because they've been lobbying for 65 years in this town. competition should apply. monopoly protection should apply. people will hear this week fancy words about safe harbor and this exemption and that exemption, they're sick of washington providing safe harbors for those who have contributed the most to political parties. ost. $400 million in lobbying just last year alone. that $400 million in lobbying from the health insurance industry. they were doing it because they want to protect their monopoly. i just got back from a week where we have seen job loss after job loss and what i have
heard is i was talking to a guy who got laid off from stanley and was saying i nearly made $40,000 20 years ago and then down to $30 an hour and $20 and i just got fired from a job where i was making $11 an hour. we need to buy america, not to be a bad word or phrase. but i hear from workers this issue, who said, i remember go go in and asking for a raise, now i just ask to hold on to my health benefits. business owners are bending over backwards to ensure to keep their workers on the payroll and keep them with health care. the reason they haven't offered a raise to their workers is because that money that would have gone to a raise is going to a raise just to keep people insured. there is a direct correlation
where people aren't seeing that increase. not only are they seeing their health expenses go out but that amount that they aren't seeing that their employer is paying is going through the roof. we are crushing american competitiveness because we aren't forceic the health insurance companies to compete. they are coming up to me and saying, who is looking out for us? everything is going to the big guys? who is fighting for working class americans? here is a two-page bill, 24 lines long that says we are going to force the biggest health insurance companies in this company to compete for your business and that is going to mean lower costs and higher quality. we need to put folks ahead of the health insurance lobbyists and companies. and with that, i yield to the representative from new york. mr. tonko: when we start talking about this competition, we
wonder about the benefits that are so needed, because we see now that some companies are looking at charging 39% of an increase for the preliminary premium, 39%, that is gross difficult outcome for consumers in this country. and what's driving it? there is lack of competition, but that lack of competition then allows for a rather comfortable zone to increase c.e.o. salaries. and when we look at the big five again, the largest insurers, the data shows that the c.e.o.'s were compensated up to $24 million in 2008. that's, i think, an outcome driven by a lack of competition. that pressure isn't there to respond. and so you just easily pass it over to the consumer. and without any sort of reform here. this will continue to grow. i know that there have been many
suggesting from studies that are very much respected that the average family plan will be increased by about $1,800 per year. today that's an average of $13,000 for a family plan. a short decade, we're just going to transpose those numbers. 13 grows to 31. that is a train wreck waiting to happen. it is unsustainable and when we don't take the bull by the horns and say, simple reform, straightforward and basic and calls for the all-american sense of competition. a good thing. if you're a strong business, you welcome competition. it's good for the soul, good for the consumer. and so, let's open this process to competition. let's avoid some of these hefty increases in c.e.o.'s salaries
or profit margins that are record breaking and all sorts of insensitivities to the quality of care and the affordability of care for individuals and families out there. the time has more than come. it is an important measure we take before us tomorrow in this house. it will be a moment in history, i am convinced so as to move forward and respond in compassionate measure in reasonable terms to bring the scales of justice back into a balance that speaks to a favorable outcome, a progressive path that we'll follow. mr. garamendi: thank you for bringing it to our attention, did you say $24 billion for the executives of the five largeest -- mr. tonko: five largest insurers. mr. garamendi: that ought to be enough and ought to be about 100 times too much. competition.
you brought up the word progressive. teddy roosevelt, in the early part of the last century that really created the early progressive movement and trust busters, recognizing that companies like standard oil and others had dominated the market and were squeezing, driving down and harming small businesses and individuals and tried to set about a better balance. and they did. that long tradition of standing up for families, working men and women is a tradition we now hold on the democratic side of this house. it's what we are trying to do in so many different ways, here with this bill, ending a 65-year opportunity that the health insurance industry has had to monopolize and engage in conspiracies to set prices and
harm the public, not just in their economics and family income, but in their ability to sustain their lives. we have a chance tomorrow to follow a long tradition of righting the balance of pushing back against those forces that would dominate us economically, socially and in this case in our very health, so tomorrow's a very, very important day but also a day we can begin -- continue, continue the process that we have seen this last year in this chamber where the democratic party is pushing back against those forces. in december, we put forth a health care bill that would move us toward accessibility, towards accountability from the health insurance industry and to affordability. we pushed back. there's one more push that we're making tomorrow. we also push forward on regulating wall street.
there are those i heard earlier this evening that this thing began in 2009. it didn't. it began because the previous administration refused to push back against the greed of wall street and we wound up with the collapse of the financial industry. we need to right that and we are doing that with the bill we put out heir in december in regulating wall street and following up taking money back from wall street that was put out there by the tarp and seppeding it to main street, righting the balance in america, so that young families, hard-working americans have a chance, in this case, to get health care, to get a job, in a case for jobs for main street. and for wall street, the days of unbrideled opportunity for greed are over. and it's time for them to hue to the lines of correct american
competition, not greed. greed has never been good, but rather to provide the financial services that this economy needs. we have a choice tomorrow. one more step along a policy of righting the ship of this nation's economy, pushing back against the greed, pushing against against the attitudes that have dominated the american economy for the last decade. ms. markey: thank you, wer as members of congress, we come here to look at all sides of an issue, to look at the pros and cons of legislation, most of the issues we deal with are very, very complex. oftentimes we are voting on a bill we may like some parts of the bill, we may not like other parts of the bill, but you can't say i'll vote yeah, and i'll change this.
you have to vote yes or no. we have looked on all sides of this piece. we have talked to people in the industry. this seems pretty straightforward to me. the only argument that i have heard against this antitrust exemption is from the insurance industry themselves who have said, well, the states have been doing it for 60 years, that's susht. let the states do it. the states are saying, we can't do this and it's unfair to put the burden on us and this is a federal issue and why, why have we singled out just one industry in all of the united states except for major league baseball which pays a luxury tax, some of the more successful teams going who have not a good season. i can't understand why for 60
years we have singled out one industry in the united states for this exemption from antitrust laws. it's wrong, it's simple to fix and we're going to do that tomorrow when we pass this legislation. this is not a democratic bill or republican bill. this is for the american consumer. mr. perriello: one of the reasons we have enjoyed working on this bill so much we are home in our districts and done a lot of town hall meetings and round table meetings with doctors and nurses and patients. we have a lot of republicans, democrats and independents and we heard a lot of things. we hear a lot of things. one is, what happened to common sense? this bill is a simple, pro- competition, make them play by the same rules. it's common sense. people say, why the partisanship? as you said the attorneys
general from all of the states not a single difficult sentencing vote said they want this and they know they need some of the resources and support to get this done. prarb's bipartisan commission came back and say there is no longer any reason why this should ever exist. so this is a bipartisan idea. you mentioned former senator trent lott. people said what about a bill we can read and understand. 24 lines. lots of attempts to add and water this down. this is a commonsense bill. people say why do special interests win out? why can't we get a victory for working-class families. that $400 million the insurance lobby spent last year was to protect this monopoly and we are saying no. we are saying we are going to put working class people ahead.
finally, we have a simple choice. not one of these gray-area d.c. decisions. do you stand with competition or stand with the monopolies of insurance companies? it's a simple choice. sometimes it can get muddles up. do you stand with patients or do you want to protect the monopoly of the insurance companies? not all insurance companies are bad. if you're not engaged in these practices, you have nothing to worry about. if you are sticking it to consumers, beware, because common sense is going to win out with a two-page bill that is going to repeal those monopoly protections and put patients first. mr. tonko: the special interests or so obvious, the escape of enforcement measures, measures of antitrust laws that make them
subject to federal prohibitions against price fixing or dividing up market territories. these are tools that don't serve consumers well. and as if the escaping isn't egregious enough, it can then move to prejudice against by not insuring the cost of pre-existing conditions. we talked about some of those more easily recognized or imagined conditions, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, but it gets into the realm of the very loosely defined pre-existing conditions, acne, domestic violence, overweight toddlers, obesity in toddlers, it's all in their favor. and i believe there needs to be a balance. there are undenbly sound
players, good, good behavior out there that responds well. but for those who are taking advantage of this exemption that has allowed to continue far too long, it is time to put up the stop sign and say it is over and new set of rules are coming your way and the attorneys general see it front and center and see it in cases they have to defend for the people in their respective states. and so they are advising us in bipartisan fashion. they are advising us, a better day can be had and here is the opportunity. a simple vote. hopefully a bipartisan vote on a very important measure, one easily understood. time to end a 65-year stretch of what i think is special response to an industry. . we talk about special interests
and the force they've had on this process as an industry. when i think about the recent supreme court decision to aplow for open spigot season to pour more dollars into the process, to influence legislative outcome, to have more pressure on -- to have more influence on the process, i get worried about this measure hanging around far too long. let's get it done in a way that acknowledges we have tough work to do here, we have people hurting across the country, not being able to afford health care coverage, not being able to sustain what are the ever-spiraling increases for health care premiums, let's do them -- give let's do them the big, big benefit of changing this law tomorrow in thetivities that will take place in the house. mr. garamendi: mr. tonko, as i
was listening to you, you were listing things that are against the regular marketplace, price fixing and the like, there's also an issue called vertical integration, in which large companies have not only monopolized the market but they reached into other aspects and own consulting companies, actuarial companies that provide them with the basic data where they can more easily manipulate that data, moving into the pharmacy benefit programs, and gaining control over the entire marketplace. that is one of thetivities that would be able to be attacked by the attorney general, by the federal attorney general if this law were to go into place. the monopolyization of the market as i described in california where blue cross has 80% of the market leads to a terrible situation. i'd like to bring us back to the why we are doing all of this. why we are doing the health
care reform that is going to be taken up in the summit on thursday of this week, why we're doing this particular bill. it's really about gloria that 12-year-old girl i talked about who was born with a heart condition and also has diabetes. her father is desperate to hang on to his job and the insurance policy that comes with it because they know, the mother, the father, and gloria know that should they -- should he lose this job that family is uninsurable. that young girl, who has had to fight for every treatment in her 12 years, to sustain her life, is an opera singer a class a student, and has a future ahead of her. but if they have no health insurance, she's going to die because she needs constant care. i could talk about a retired --
well he did retire because he couldn't continue to work, a carpenter who i saw on his deathbed say, i just want to live long enough so that my wife can turn 56 and get medicare because if i -- can turn 65 and get mid care because if i die before that, she has no insurance and has pre-existing condition. there's hurt upon this land. people are suffering for a lack of a job and they know if they lose -- if they lose that job, they'll lose their health care. and they'll lose their wealth and they may very well join the 40,000-plus americans that lose their life for lack of health insurance. this side of the aisle, the democrats are pushing back against these situations, and tomorrow, one step, one more step, one more push back, and
say in america, the present system is wrong and tomorrow, there will be an end to the ability of these insurance companies to monopolize the market, to engage in anti-competitivetivities, price setting, vertical integration and the rest. i want to congratulate, i want to thank mr. perriello and ms. markey for what you're doing tomorrow in your legislation. ms. markey: i'd like to thank my colleague from california for sharing the personal stories of people you know who are unable to switch jobs because they will not be able to get health insurance. people who can't afford insurance or get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. we've all heard stories about the auto industry, the most important part of making a car is the health insurance for the workers who put that vehicle
together. that the most important line item expense for companies like starbucks is not coffee but health insurance. i saw that in my own businesses as well. my husband and i, every year, it was double-digit increases. every year we as small business owners had to cut back on how much we could afford to pay. we started out paying 80% of our employees' health insurance. we went down to 70%. now it's 60/40 because we can't foy aford to keep up. particularly in a global economy, where you're doing business overseas. your partners overseas don't have that enormous cost of health care that they are paying for their employees. it's a real business decision to decide, well, gee, can i afford to hire somebody new? can it be maybe a contractor and i won't be maying health insurance for them because i can't afford that extra, you know, $16,000 or $17,000.
it's a difficult issue for everyone and the competition is not there. as i mentioned, when you've got employees in one or more states, it's virtually impossible to find more than one company, that's all we could find, one company across the united states that would offer insurance to people in several different states. that's just wrong. we have all talked a little bit about the state attorneys general. i want to read to you a quote from one of those ternings at their meeting when they all voted unanimously, really, for repeal of this antitrust exemption. one of the assistant attorneys general noted, the most egregiously anti-competitive claims such as naked agreements, fixing price or reducing coverage are virtually always found immune from prosecution under the law. they're always found immune.
we have a very simple choice tomorrow, do we stand for the insurance industry or do we stand for the american consumer? it's not an issue of what's good for one industry, it's what's good for competition and innovation, what they have is wrong and unfair and we have a chance to undo that tomorrow. mr. perriello: i know we're coming close to the -- mr. tonko: i know we're coming close to the end of the hour, i want to state, perhaps if this unfairness were not being levied upon, thrust upon american family, maybe this wouldn't be happening but because there is that unfairness, the propensity to push for this reform has reached a very solid height. i think that as we go forward, as we're waxing anecdotely, what comes to mind for me is a couple i know hit with a catastrophic illness, a husband
and wife. their premiums increased 37% over the course of two years and we were left with one wage earner in the family, they had both been working, because the wife was struck by a catastrophic illness. think had one wage earner and a pile of debters $18,000 worth -- pile of debt, $18,000 worth of unpaid medical bills. that's what feeds the passion in this debate. i have to commend the leadership of this house, speaker pelosi has been vigilant about pushing therer re-forms along with our respective chairs, from education and labor, ways and means, moving forward to make it happen, to make certain the people's voices are heard in this debate. when we talk about the unfairness, some of the imbalance in the outcome, what about the medical loss ratio? less and les of premiums collected, percentage wise, are returned to direct care for consumers. 95% a decade and a half ago,
today below 80%. there's a reason for a number of these issues to come forward a number of reforms to be advanced and this bill, the perriello-markey bill, hopefully will be approved tomorrow in a bipartisan vote. i'm pleased to stand here in support of this measure and i want to thank my colleagues for the input they are providing for this historic moment to happen. i thank you very much. mr. perriello: we can make a difference tomorrow. we can make a difference in forcing competition in the health care market. we can also make a difference in starting to restore some of the trust in this body and in washington. people across this country do not trust congress. that's for good reason. they always hear about the special interests coming out aled -- ahead. here's the simple, simple thing. two pages, 24 lines long, that simply says, health insurance companies that are some of the biggest companies in the world
should have to play by the same rules. if the plumbers in my district got together and started to set prices, they'd go to jail. why is it that the health insurance companies should be able to play by a different set of rules? people are always saying, there's these common sense reforms out there, why can't we get them done? ms. markey and i have come together and take than idea, it's not our idea, it came from people in our districts, conservatives and liberals alike, who agree that restoring competition and removing monopoly protections makes sense. when we see premiums double in the last 10 years, crushing the purchasing power of working and middle class americans, that's real for people. when you don't have to compete, the consumer loses. so people say, why can't you get these basic things done? this is a chance. not just to do something good in the health insurance market, but show the american people we
can come together. we already know this is a bipartisan bill. all of the attorneys general, without a single dissenting vote, said this is something we support. we want to be able to go after these monopolies. jury after jury, juries of the american people, have found this is going on. only to be overturned by the judges who say, sorry, because of the rule, those basic monopoly rules do not apply. the antitrust rules do not apply. this is a chance for us to do a simple, two-page bill that puts patients ahead of the profiteering of the insurance companies. it doesn't say insurance companies can't continue to make lots of money, they can. we're just saying you can't do it by colluding and price fixing and doing the sort of things that since teddy roosevelt we have put our foot down and said are anti-competitive may havors. it's a great chance for people
in this body to show people back in their districts, i'm here to represent you, not the lobbyists that write the checks. not the $400 million the insurance lobby spent last year in this city. but to say, i'm going to stand up for patients. this is not going to fix the entire health care problem. but why wouldn't we start with this? we know it has bipartisan support from the attorneys general. we know it has that bipartisan support from the president bush commission that came out and said this needs to be done. it moves us in the right direction to put patients and doctors back in the driver's seat. it allows us to restore the basic sense of competition in this country. and it says, for once, working and middle class family -- families are going to come out ahead of special interests. consumers will come out ahead of the greed mentality you talked about before. we can do this.
the american people sent us here to do this, to listen and find ideas that are not republican or democrat, but fundamentally american ideas and institute them. we will need to continue to have a debate about health care reform beyond tomorrow but let's show the american people tomorrow on the eve of this health care summit that there are ideas we can come together on. we have that chance. so i come in to tomorrow with great hope, great hope not only that we will get this bill passed, but we'll restore a basic sense of competition, that we'll put patients first, but that maybe this can be a first step in the health care debate to get things done because people are in pain out there right now. we have lost millions of jobs. and yes we took bold action a year ago to help stabilize the economy, but that's not enough. we need economic growth. so i appreciate the work that ms. markey has put into this, that chairwoman slaughter and defazio and others who fought
this good, progressive fight for so long, i look forward to seeing this through to completion tomorrow and thank you all for being part of this important, important fight. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. does the gentleman have a motion? mr. pe role low: i move to adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia moves to adjourn. the question is on the motion. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. accordingly the house stands adjourned
>> rhonda smith described how in 2006 her car accelerated to 100 miles per hour while she attended to bring it to a stop. we will hear from the president of toyota's north american sales, james lents. he tells the committee that the recalls probably will not totally fix the problem. that hearing is next on c-span. >> my name is rhonda smith and this is my husband of 38 years. i am a retired social worker
with the state of tennessee and my husband is a senior vice president at a bank. i am truly bankable to be here today and i am speaking on behalf of those -- thankful to be here today and i speak on behalf of those who have lost their lives unnecessarily. in my new car in 2006 -- it had just under 3,000 miles on it when the accident occurred. the vehicle had a keyless ignition and required a key to be inside the car for it to start. on that day in 2006, and i will read this, because i can tell you if still gets to me today. i was driving from my home down the highway to the interstate 40. upon entering the interstate, i
accelerated into the flow of traffic. at this point, a merged into the second lane, not going into passing year. at this time, i lost all control of the acceleration of the vehicle. the cruise light came on. i thought that maybe the cruise was what caused the car to keep accelerating as my foot was not on the gas pedal. i took off the cruise control, but the car continued to accelerate. to make a long story short, i put the car into all available years, including neutral, and then reverse, and it remained in reverse as the car sped over one under miles per hour down the interstate. i placed both feet on the brake after i firmly engaged the emergency brake. i figured it was going to go its maximum speed and i would have to put it into the upcoming
guard rail in order to prevent killing anyone else. i pray for god to help me. i called my husband on the bluetooth phone system. i knew it -- i'm sorry. i knew he could not help me, but i wanted to hear his voice one more time. after 6 miles, god intervened. as the car came very slowly to a stop, i pulled it to the left median. with the car stopped and my feet on the break -- brakes, the motor still revved up and down at 35 miles per hour and it would not shut off.
at 40 miles per hour i was able to shut the engine off. thank you. after my husband arrived, he found nothing unusual about the accelerator or the floor mats. the-light and the radio were still on. after the -- the dash lights and the radio were still on. the wrecker asked my husband to put the car in neutral so he could start the winch. he was standing 20 to 25 p away -- feet away. without thinking, my husband sat down in the car and was able to shift the car into neutral, which should not have been able to do. when he did that, the car tried to start itself. we have a notarized statement from the driver attesting to
this. toyota said they would inspect our car and contact us. after 10 days we had not received a call. we called again and got the same assurances. they promised they would look into our complaints several more times over the next few weeks. when we finally forced them to respond in writing, we received a five-sentence analysis stating, when properly maintained, the bricks will always override the accelerator. we know that is a lie. we were outraged that they would suggest that the brakes had to not properly be maintained in order for that to happen. the car had less than 3,000 miles on it. we contacted our dealer and expressed our disgust with the handling of this. they recommended that we contact the national center for dispute
settlements and ask for arbitration. the hearing was a farce. their tennis street district -- there tennessee district field technician did not show his face. he attended via speaker phone. he insisted he could not recreate the incident and that i had caused the problem by slamming on the brakes and spinning the tires. we were furious. ncds denied arkansas claim for a total refund of our pre -- of our tonight at our -- denied our claim for a total refund of our purchase price. we turned to nhtsa for help. they responded.
he'd they seemed receptive of our concerns. -- they a sseemed receptive of our concerns. we told them we were concerned that someone would get hurt. wheat ernest pictures of the car in documentation -- we've burnished -- we furinsh -- furnished pictures of the cart indy documentation. we were not taken seriously. -- pictures of the car and documentation. we were not taken seriously. there was only one party that took interest in our claim that toyota and nhtsa were ignoring
our problem. channel 6 in knoxville did the story which aired in the spring of 2007. we were told the problem was somewhere in the electronics. there was a california crash that killed a california highway patrolman. they did a second story on this sudden unintended acceleration -- it was broadcast in february, 2010. ñiit showed the original interview and the current interview with the belief that the problem was electronic, not the floor mats. we received no response from toyota or nhtsa. in 2008, we reluctantly let go of our mission to preserve it -- to persuade them to deal with the problem because the effort was to traumatizing. we are here today because for the first time we feel our story is getting more than a
token of attention. unfortunately, it took almost four years and injuries and lives lost to get congress to take up this important issue. we hope that our efforts might spare others in this incident. it pains our hearts to realize that we failed and that failure is shared by toyota and nhtsa. did demonstrated an uncaring attitude -- they demonstrated an uncaring attitude and disregard for human life. the results were tragic. shame on you, toyota, for being so greedy, and shame on you, nhtsa, for not doing your job. we hope this testimony will help toyota's customers in no way that toyota has not done to this day. i would like to thank this
committee for listening to our story. it is about time we were heard. i hope that toyota and nhtsa will be held accountable. we would like to ask the committee to set a higher standard for nhtsa to be held more accountable in the future. i thank you. >> thank you, mr. smith. mr. smith, your opening statement. >> good evening. i would also like to take the opportunity to thank the honorable members of this committee for inviting us to testify today and sharing our experience with sudden unintended acceleration. my name is eddie smith and my wife is the woman you just heard speak. we purchased this 2000 lexus because a toyota's exemplary
claims on safety. we have young grandchildren. it has been a difficult experience to decide what to say today. you have heard my wife describe her experience. listening to the last words in the imminent death of my best friend and it not been able to do anything about it. besides being a terrifying in trauma fight -- and traumatizing experience for my wife, it was the same for me. she was scared by the grace of god and is still by my side today. -- spared by the grace of god and is still by my side today. we have wanted to see this injustice addressed. toyota was informed of this potentially deadly problem in 2006 and was warned by us numerous times that lives would
be lost if it was left unattended. we phoned, e-mailed, and wrote numerous letters. we received just a statement -- if properly maintained, the brakes will always override acceleration. the callous liars. next, they sent us to arbitration with the ncds. this was a big waste of time and money. it was a complete set to try and make us go away and we did not. we were called liars and accused of running our own breaks in transmission. -- ruining our own brakes and transmission. nhtsa, by their own admission,
said it is our u.s. administration responsible for redressing deaths, injuries, and economic losses due to automobile crashes. their mission is to save lives, prevent injuries. we got a good warm feeling that somebody actually cared enough to try to prevent the possibility of loss of life. we made -- they made at trip to inspect our vehicle. we thought the government would bring toyota to task and resolve the issue. we hoped to spare others from going through what we went through. we were wrong again. they were telling us it was the floor mats. they sent a small stickers to place on the floor mats -- this was the ethics -- the fix. they had only been sent on to
sell us on the idea that the problem was not electronics, but the floor mats. they went through the motions and try to tease us with this absurd theory. . complete investigation by mr. yawn. the floor mat test referred to in mr. yawn's report as you have all read was a complete fabrication of the truth. this never happened and was never shown to us at any time during his visit. once again, we felt we had only received lip service. now that lives have been lost and sudden unintended and sudden unintended ac to be an electronic issue, why does toyota and nhtsa not remember rhonda smith's please 2006 for someone to take heed and fix this killer problem. my point from all this is to say that for reported reliable and safety concern company such as toyota claims to be, they sure
took the easiest and cheapest route on the electronic issue brought to their attention by us in 2006. how many american lives should have been spared? our customer satisfaction from toyota and nhtsa has my wife traumatized, i was labeled a destructive, lying idiot and i paid the repair bill to fix the brakes on the lexus. many have experienced sudden unintended acceleration and unfortunately some are not allowed today to be able to tell their story. rhonda is here today to testify before this committee for all those who have died and their families. hopefully suggestion will finally be served. to toyota, i say your quality and safety record has been totally destroyed by your past and present words and actions. now your integrity has come into
play. how are you going to handle this? we're here today to help see that you don't shove the american people under the rug again, and that your true colors are finally revealed. to nhtsa, i feel you have totally failed the american >> now we hear from toyota's top executive. the company president and akio toyoda will testify tomorrow. we will have live coverage on c- span3 at 10:00 a.m.. ranking members and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. my name is jim lentz, the chief operating officer of toyota sales usa.
in my testimony i will address toyota's recent recalls and the decisive actions that were taken to restore trust in the tens of millions of americans who purchase and drive our vehicles. for two generations we've provided americans with cars and trucks that are safe and reliable, and we fully intend to produce even safer and higher quality vehicles into the future, even as we pave the way for the next generation of electric vehicles and hybrids that our society needs. in recent months we've not lived up to our high standards. our customers and the public have come to expect from toyota. put simply, it's taken us too long to come to grips with a rare but serious set of safety issues despite all of a good faith efforts. the problem has also been compounded by our poor communications within our company and with regulators and consumers. while all auto companies have
recalls and all auto -- major auto companies have experienced complaints about intended acceleration, toyota's recalls have caused concern among our customers. i would like to asurety commit and the american people that nothing is nothing more important to toyota than the safety and reliability of the vehicles that our customers drive. we're committed to not only fixing the vehicles on the road and ensuring that they are safe, but making all of our new vehicles better, even more reliability through strict quality controls, enhanced communication and redoubling our focus on putting the customer first. our 1,500 dealers are making tremendous efforts to complete our recalls as quickly and as conveniently as possible for our customers. some dealers were staying open 24 hours a day seven days a week and they were repairing vehicles at the rate of about 50,000 a day. thus far we've repaired nearly 800,000 vehicles.
we've rigorously tested our solutions and we're confident that these repairs to toyota vehicles will make them among safest on the road today. our engineers have identified two specific mechanical causes of unintended acceleration covered by recallses, and we currently address these through our open recalls. one involves floor mats that when laotion or improperly fitted can entrap the accelerator pedal. the other concerns the accelerator pedals that over time can grow stick we wear and humidity. the solutions that we've developed are both effective and durable. we are confident that no problems exist in our electronic throttle systems in our vehicles. we've designed our electronic throttle system with multiple fall safe mechanisms to shut off reduce engine power in the event of a system failure. we've done extensive testing on this system, and we've never found a malfunction that's caused unintended acceleration.
additionfully december we asked exponent, a world class engineering and scientific consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive independent analysis of our electronic throttle system with an unlimited budget. their interim report confirms that it works as it's designed. toyota will make the results of this comprehensive evaluation available to the public and to congress as soon as it's completed. so, why did it take so long to get to this point? with respect to pedal entrapment, toyota conducted investigations of consumer complaints which focused too narrowly on technical issues without taking full account on the way consumers used our vehicles. and in the case of sticking accelerator pedals, we fail to promptly analyze and respond to information emerging from europe and in the united states. we acknowledge these mistakes and apologize for them and we've learned from them.
we now understand that we must think differently when investigating complaints and communicate faster, better and more effectively with our customers and with our regulators. our recent voluntary recalls of certain 2010 prius and lexus hybrids and certain 2010 tacoma trucks illustrate this approach. we're also going further. our president akio toyoda has announced a top-to-bottom evaluation of our company and other principal regions. we'll ask independent outside experts to evaluate the findings to make sure we meet or exceed industry standards. we're expanding our network of technical offices in the u.s. so we can gather information faster and respond more aggressively to incident reports, and we will install advanced brake override systems in all of our new models making us one of the first full-line manufacturers to offer
this customer confidence feature as standard equipment. additionally, we're announcing that we'll install this system on an expanded range of vehicles, including tacoma, venza and sequoia models that are capable of accepting this new software. we have previously announced this system would be installed in camry, avalon, lexus es and is models. these actions underscore that toyota is going above and beyond what's necessary in terms of vehicle modifications and repairs to ensure that our customers can be completely confident and the safety and reliability of their cars and trucks. chairman waxman, subcommittee chairman stupak and ranking members as well as members of the committee, these are only some of the steps that we're taking to earn back the confidence of congress and the american people. our 200,000 team members,
dealership and suppliers in the u.s. are the backbone of that effort and i'm confident we'll succeed in receiving customer trust in the quality, safety and reliability of our vehicles. thank you very much, and i'm ready for your questions. >> thank you, mr. lentz. chairman waxman for questions, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. lentz, thank you for your testimony. your cooperation with this committee's investigation. these past few months have not been a happy time for your company or for your customers. people have been very anxious about what appears to be a rare situation, but it is a very scary and possibly fatal situation if a car has a sudden acceleration and the car seems to be out of control. for the future, you're suggesting that you're going to put in a system where the brake will override the gas pedal.
>> yes, 2011 model year vehicle. with the exception of one vehicle by the end of this calendar year, most of the vehicles that come into the u.s. will have a standard equipment the brake override system. >> that will be helpful, but let me ask you about the cars that are already on the road. people have these vehicles. you're not planning to do any retro fit of the brake over the gas pedal in those cars? >> there are seven of those vehicles currently on the road that we are retrofitting. >> seven models. >> camry, avalon -- >> you're going to rhett fit all the vehicles. >> those that are technically possible we're rhett fitting. >> is your microphone still working? >> the green light is on. >> okay. >> just try it a little closer, if you can. >> okay. >> how many vehicles will then be on the road with the possible problem if the problem is due to something other than the mats or the sticky pedal? >> yrn the exai don't know the r
of the vehicles on the road that has that system. it is the majority but i can't tell you the percentages, i don't know. >> the majority of the vehicles on the road already on the road that will be retro fitted. >> vehicles on the road will be retro fitted. >> okay. now i mentioned in my opening statement and it's been well publicized that i've been critical of your assurances to the american people and i think we have a film that we could show you, but -- let's see if we can get that in. >> how confident are you that this is it, that you have found the problem behind unintended acceleration in toyota? >> we're very confident. between the first recall that we've had on the entrapment of the pedal and now this on the -- on the overall pedal, i think we have it. >> i have to be honest with you. most people are listening to you, and there's going to be an
err of skepticism. you came to us in october and said that we believe unintended acceleration is caused by floor mats entrapping the pedal and then you came back in december and said, you know what, there may be sticking accelerator pedals. we'll be recalling the vehicles, and then finally last week or within the last two weeks you said we're going to stop production, and we're going to look for a physical fix. there is an err of questioning whether or not you real very your ducks in a row in terms of unintended acceleration. >> we are very confident that the fix in place is going to stop what's going on. >> we're having some trouble with our sound system. do you stand by that statement? are you still confident that the two recalls that you've put into place will solve the problem? >> let me make sure that it's very clear on my statement. >> okay. >> unintended acceleration as i view it and define it is any
time that a driver removes their input from the accelerator and the vehicle continues at some speed, and there are many different causes for that. there are mechanical causes, whether it's software issue in a transmission, whether it could be an idle up from an air conditioner, whether it could be a faulty cruise control, whether it could be a pedal, in this case an entrapped pedal. >> what concerns me, mr. lentz, there seems to be a difference between your statement that was given on television and the statements that other toyota officials have given to our committee staff. even your own counsel in a letter to us said that the sticky pedals become lodged in a partially depressed position which typically does not translate into a sudden high speed acceleration event. also it appears that you're trying to give assurances to people, convince them that both of toyota's recent recalls will address the problem but our
committee's investigation calls into accuracy your statement because 70% of the complaints of sudden unintended acceleration that come into toyota's customer call line were from vehicles -- drivers whose vehicles were not included in any of these recalls. @ @ @ > , @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ h there were a number of television interviews and a conference call with 150 journalists. if i could read to you the response i made to a question? >> is a more consistent with what we're being told privately by your counsel and buy your own people? let me ask a question directly -- the believe that the recall
on the sticky pedal will solve the problem of sudden and unintended acceleration? >> we need to continue to be vigilant and continue to investigate all the complaints we get from consumers, and we have done a relatively poor job of doing that in the past. >> why did you not look that they possibility of the computer system being at fault? >> we have looked into the electronics. based on the testing we have done in japan, that component, use of the initial response. continue to test the etcs in japan as well as now, what the exponent is doing, and we've not found a malfunction. it doesn't mean that we stop. >> but exponents evaluation has been very, very criticized as not very well done, not
scientifically. the sample was too small, and unreliable report. do you have something more from japan that you haven't given us? >> i -- i am relying on the information that i have received from japan that they are confident the testing has been done in japan, and they are confident that there are not issues with the ecu. >> mr. lentz, my time is up. let me just tell you that i'm not confident that you're looking for something that you don't think exists because if you're not looking for it, you won't find it, and we had -- these two witnesses earlier who spent three hours and came up with the possibility that this sudden acceleration could take place because of the electronics and the computer system. that report that you gave to our committee from that -- from that -- from exponent does not
justify ruling that possibility out. >> it's not intended to do that. that's just the beginning of their investigation. it's -- they have many, many more steps to complete, and we'll provide you with that final when they get it done. that's just the beginning. >> that report is the beginning, but that only beginning -- that beginning only started this month. >> it started in -- >> in february of 2010. you're only starting to look at it, and you had an analysis done that was quite inadequate. we need to be sure that you're doing a full and adequate analysis of something you've denied but which other witnesses have shown us is very possible as an explanation for the sudden acceleration. mr. chairman, my time has expired. i know other members will want to pursue this with mr. lentz. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. burgess, for questions. >> just to continue on that same line that the chairman was just following. yes, you have a responsibility
to do these things, but there's also a federal agency who is responsible for traffic safety that has an oversight role here. what have they told you about their independent testing of your electronic throttle control systems? >> i don't know specifically of the results of the tests other than there have been many, many cases in the past that have been opened, investigations that have been closed, and they have not found anything. i can't tell you specifically what their testing paradigm was. >> well, of course, we've had so much data in front of us today. there's one graph here that shows the -- the complaints of unintended and uncommanded acceleration really start in 2002 which my understanding is that's the year that the electronic throttle control actually came into being on your cars, is that correct? >> i believe 2001 might have been the first year on ls, but it's very close. >> what -- now you heard
mr. gilbert testify here today and actually the response to mr. buyer's question that he cut no wires when he did his simulation. have your guys been able to reproduce his results without cutting wires? >> exponent in their initial study, i was up at exponent a few weeks ago, and they showed how they tested the vehicle for a vehicle short and other situations that involved the electronics from the pedal to the throttle ucm. >> were they able to reproduce what mr. gilbert showed? >> no. in every case they went into an error code. as you, we received mr. gilbert's information very, very late. >> let moo ask you this. you know, are you going to hire him now to -- it took you three hours to find the problem. if he's correct, we have to make that leap of faith. >> but quite frankly we encourage people to try to find it. it's not in our interest if a problem exists to not find it and not figure it out, so if it
exists, we encourage the mr. gilberts of the world to look at it. it just seems a little too good to be true that somebody could figure this out in three and a half hours when an industry has been looking for this for ten years. >> it may not be fair to ask you to testify to this but you heard mr. gilbert's testimony. do you or someone in your organization think it is possible that what he's described would be responsible for what happened, and if it did, would you expect to see some physical evidence, chafing of wires, crossing of wires sore something that actually brought two circuits in to contact with the correct amount of resistance and then putting the five volts on top of it to create the uncommanded acceleration? is there anyone in your organization who is able to talk to us about that? >> vince is here. he's one of our attorneys, and he has been working with exponent, and at some point we'd love to get exbonenent and mr. gilbert together but if you like vince can give you a very quick explanation of what they found.
i'm not an engineer. >> right. >> so i'd probably mess this up. >> since we're taking testimony under oath, i don't know what's permissible here. let me just ask you a question on the fix because i know your guys, your dealers in my area, toyota of louisville, they have been johnny on the spot with this. they have been getting people in, takes them 20 minutes to fix this, but if they are fixing the wrong problem and they really need to be developing whenever you just called the advanced override for the brake system, then you wonder if we'll have to call people in for yet another fix to the problem. now what actually fixes the accelerator pedal? what have you developed that will fix that problem on the recall? >> there are two different issues. in the case of a sticky accelerator pedal, they are actually putting in a precision cut steel plate. >> we call that a shim, right? >> yes. >> how many different sizes of precision-cut plates are you produceing? >> i believe it's either seven or nine.
>> seven or nine. >> yes, yes. >> and presumably this material that's hydroscopic and absorbing water and becoming incompatible with proper function, presumably that's a precision manufactured component, is it not? >> i would assume so. >> the fact that you have to seven to nine different-sized shims. >> i think it has to do with the amount of wear that's actually on the shim, so when the technician takes the pedal off, they actually measure how large the gap it s and that determines the size of the shim that they put in, the steel plate. >> but it does -- a precision designed, grommet or the shim that we're talking about, it just doesn't seem reasonable that there would have to be so many different sizes in order to fix the problem if the problem was the pedal absorbing atmospheric moisture. >> the size difference is in
very small millimeters. to the naked eye you can tell the difference between the biggest and the smallest, but as you go down the road they are very, very close in total size, but what it really does is, you know, it -- it ensures that excess friction won't build up in the pedal, and what's happened in the past is with wear it gets shiny, and once humidity is added to that it actually builds up too much friction, and that's when the pedal starts to bind or possibly stick. >> now this fix on this recall, i mean, national highway traffic safety agency administration, they have -- they have signed off on that and feel that this fix is the problem. have they looked at it themselves? >> they don't sign off. we show them our solution and they don't disagree, so it's -- we are -- we are confident it's the right fix. >> what about the -- the fix of putting the advanced brake override system in? >> advanced brake overrides in
production vehicles is already started on vehicles like es and camry. >> but for those of us who have older model toyotas that wanted to have that degree of safety built in for our families, how do we go about getting that done? >> it's a reflash on those seven vehicles and it varies by vehicle and by model year. >> you mean a reflash, a reset of the computer. >> a reflash of the computer to add that. >> and technically how difficult is that to do? >> it takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. >> and how much does it cost? >> we're providing that. >> it just seems that that's something that really should happen in addition to all these other things just to be on the safe side. >> it's for added consumer confidence. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. burgess. >> while on this rebooting of this computer there, why only some of the vehicles going to be rebooted, not the other ones? >> depends on the feasibility of the unit. some of the computers have different types of chips in
them. >> okay. >> some are not rewritable basically. they are hard-coded. >> can't you fix it and rewrite the programs so that all your vehicles are covered? what do you say to the owners who are not going to have this safety feature added to it? they will just continue to drive down a road and hope they don't have a sudden unintended acceleration? >> again, the incident or possibility of that happening is very, very slim but understanding if it happens to you it's a very, very important incident. >> sure. very, very slim. let's take a look at this and from slim let's go to shim. you talked a lot about the slim with mr. burgess, but the documents we asked for, and i put this in our letter on february 22nd, on the second page, i was going to ask you this question. we wrote to you on february 2nd requesting any analysis that toyota -- that shows sticky pedals can cause some unintended acceleration. you didn't produce any analysis. in fact, your counsel actually said, quote, typically a sticky pedal does not translate into a sudden high speed acceleration
event, so this shim isn't going to solve the sudden unintended acre acceleration. >> it will prevent unintended acceleration. high speed, most likely not. >> as chairman waxman pointed out of the complaints you have in your own database 70% of the unintended acceleration events in your own database involves vehicles that are not subject to the floor mat or the sticky pedal recall, so 70% of the problem isn't being addressed by the recall, correct? >> a couple of issues. most important part about it is those in many cases are customer -- customer generated i don't want to call them complaints but feedback to us that they are having an issue. what's most important is that we are able to investigate those as quickly as possible so we can
understand chaes going on, and in the past we have not done a very good job of doing that. >> okay. haven't done a very good job doing that. mr. kane in the last panel testified over 2,000 complaints and when he went through it he figured maybe half of them, 1,000, 1,130 some cannot explained other than what the driver said other than the sudden unintended acceleration. do you agree with that. >> i'm not sure if his database is sudden or unintended. i don't want to get into a debate over what is here. there is a big difference between unintended and sudden unintended. my understanding is that the database through noticea includes other things such as surges, whether it be from a cruise control, a transmission or other issues, so i -- i can't tell you from the date that they are using it. >> but some of the complaints are like recently. i put it in, park, pop over a curb and hit a tree and one gentleman went off a cliff and
his wife died. >> yes. >> and that wasn't a high speed but that was a sudden unintended acceleration. it doesn't always have to be at high speed. >> correct. >> all of them have to be taken seriously. >> yes. there's no question. >> so 70% of all those complaints in your database we don't have annence for yet? >> there are answers with other mechanical breakdowns from transmissions, from other engine surges. there's pedal misapplication that's the possibility as well and we're not here blaming customers but it does take place. >> but it sort sounds that way. i don't mean to be nitpicking here, but when mr. wax man asked you a question about unintended acceleration you said as i would define it. that's when you said to the chairman, and it seems like when we get this sudden unintended acceleration it's the way toyota wants to define it, not the customer. >> well, but i think we're defining it as a customer is defining it and that is a much broader spectrum of any type
of -- any type of surge or movement in the vehicle that the customers doesn't expect to take place, and that can happen from a number of different sources. to me i'd rather have the broad spectrum to look at than a more narrow spectrum of high speed. >> well, let's talk about the cm%)# "h@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ nhtsa presented toyota with the increase in complaints and 2004. you mentioned that you had a recall in europe in april or may of these sudden acceleration? you recall in england and ireland? >> that is not the sticking pedal. yes --
>> in england and ireland, that was just the sticky paddle. >> yes. >> and i was in response to such an unintended acceleration? again, it is in response to unintended -- the possibility of unintended acceleration which was a safety issue. >> to me -- >> when you did recall and you're open ended you're fixing you're. did you notify nhtsa of this? >> we knew about it. >> did you notify nhtsa? >> we notified nhtsa as soon as we knew the situation in the wait. >> well, wait a minute. >> november 2009. >> it took you until november of 2009 when you had a 400% in complaints since 2004 to realize that there might be a problem in the united states after a recall in europe? >> i'm speaking specifically about sticky pedals. thoept go back to 2002. the sticky pedal event began in
the united states. there was one instance i believe it 2006 or 2007 but it was october 2009 that we had three corollas and that generated our investigation and we notified noticea immediately that we had seen that. you still, do you have any analysis, every evidence that sticky pedals can cause a sunday unintended acceleration. >> it depends on the definition of sudden. if it means that you can be depressing a pedal, take your foot off the pedal and the car continues at speed, it does cause that. >> typically does not translate into a sticky pedal. >> not high speed. >> and 70% of your customers in the database, we still don't have an answer for their unintended acceleration.
>> there are many factors that lead to it. >> but 70% of them we don't have an answer for, is that fair to say? >> that's probably fair to say. if i can show you one more. this is saturday's "washington post," okay, february 20th. suspicion lingers over acceleration in camrys, okay? and the reason why i bring it up because they cite three fatales of 2005 camrys and it says in each of these three fatal episodes, the car involved was a 2005 toyota camry, a model that the company has indicated is free from acceleration defects. it's not been recalled for either the sticky pedal or the floor mat interference. is that true? >> i believe so. >> any suggestions on why the camry has this acceleration problem? >> in -- when we -- the model year changed in 2004, there was an acceleration issue that had to do with the transmission, that there was a surge between
38 and 42 miles per hour. and that surge was caused by a torque converter locking up. it wasn't very smooth. it was a shift shock, basically. and that was reported by customers as an unintended acceleration. that software was changed. and that tended to subside that particular issue. >> have you gone back and fixed the software in the 2005 camrys then? this fatal is the one that went over the parking lot and over the 70-foot cliff. >> again, i don't know -- >> you have put out a recall on the 2005 camry to fix this? a recall? >> on the pedal? >> on this torque issue you're talking about? >> the torque converter was 2004. >> these are 2005 camrys. do we still have toyota vehicles that have acceleration and we don't know what the problem is? >> there's the possibility through either mechanical or human or some other type of error that could cause that.
>> thank you. mr. barton, questions? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for those questions. i thought they were excellent. mr. lentz, what's your background? you said you're not an engineer. what are you? >> sales and marketing. >> sales and marketing. i have a degree in marketing and economics and an mba in finance. >> okay. so you do agree from a marketing standpoint that what's going on now is fairly detrimental to your company? i was in one of your -- two of your principal dealerships in texas yesterday met with me, one in houston and one in arlington. and their sales are down 30%. i would assume from a marketing standpoint, that's not a good thing. >> no, sir, it's not. >> okay. you're the ceo of toyota in the united states. do you -- how much authority do you have to solve this problem? can you pretty well call the shots or do you have to ask for
authority from headquarters in tokyo? >> well, i'm the chief operating officer for the u.s. from a marketing standpoint, i call the shots. >> marketing standpoint. >> if you're talking about from a defect standpoint or a determination of a recall standpoint, those decisions have been made in japan in the past. >> okay. i'm not saying that's a bad thing. i just want to know -- >> but it's changing. >> i want to know how far you can go if you make a promise today can you deliver on it. >> that is changing. there are a number of different organizations being put into the company that are going to make things much more transparent around the globe, much more transparent with regulators and allow us to have input into defect decisions that in the past were always made in japan. there will be a north american
committee that makes defect recommendations now. and there will be a process if we don't agree with the decision of that committee that we can have a process to override. to date, that has not existed. >> now, in a prior panel, i don't know if you were in the room or not, but we had a couple from -- i believe they were from tennessee, the smith couple. and the wife, her car experienced out of control acceleration for a number of minutes. i mean she was literally in this car long enough she could, you know, she put it in neutral. she put her foot on the brake. she tried to turn the ignition off. she put it in reverse. she called her husband on the cell phone. that was not a sticky pedal because of a floor mat. i mean something happened to that car that's unexplainable so far. now we normally when something bad happens in a product, you
know, if there's a plane crash, we go to the scene and investigate the plane. if there's a bridge collapse, we go to the collapse of the bridge and we look for structural defect or design defect. if there's a building collapse -- in this case, we have a car that had, you know, out of control acceleration and apparently all that was done was they went to a dealership and did a routine computer program review. why has toyota not obtained that vehicle and taken it to your laboratory and done everything possible to discover what caused the malfunction? >> i don't know specifically in her case. other than i did hear her comment that she had mentioned that a field technical specialist looked at her car. >> a field technical specialist? >> right, somebody that works for toyota. >> okay. so you said one person that you're paying $50,000 a year and
they spent an hour and they hooked up the little program and said we don't see a problem and filled out a form, we don't see a problem. you have a buimultibillion doll company that is experiencing a multibillion dollar hit in the marketplace, why in the world won't you get that vehicle and do everything possible to determine -- you know, it really doesn't matter that you got five million vehicles that are performing flawlessly if you got 10 that have failed. her problem is not a floor mat problem. it is not a floor mat -- >> i don't know. >> well, i know. i take her at her word. she's going down the highway at 100 miles an hour, she has enough sense to pull the damn floor mat from under the pedal if -- i know that and you know. that you can't say that because of all the lawsuits. but why don't y'all get the car that's have had the problem and if you need nitsa there to
verify what you're doing, get them. but if i'm president of toyota, i'm going to get the cars that we know have had a problem and i'm going to do everything i can to find out what caused that problem. and then i'm going to fix it if it's fixable. this -- you know, with gulf states toyota and those are good people. they want to sell your cars. and they're doing this fix and in my opinion it's a sham. not because they're not fixing that. they're making it feel better. they're shortening the pedal about an inch and a half and they're putting this shim that mr. burgess talked about so it feels differently. but unless it is a floor mat issue, which some cases it may be, you're not solving the problem that mrs. smith had. she didn't have a floor mat problem. so, again, why don't you get
that car? it's still in existence. check it out. tear it apart. do whatever -- and do it with witnesses that are credible because my guess is you have really, really smart engineers. >> yes, sir. >> hopefully they'll shoot straight with you and whatever the issue is, it is, you know, i'm an engineer. engineers are trained. we identify the problem, develop an opt mall solution, implement the solution. you probably can solve this problem if you really tried to. >> well, in terms of going out and seeing what the situation is, we -- today we have two engineering centers here within the u.s. with about 80 engineers. we're adding three more of those. because our goal is on any unintended acceleration is to be able to contact the customer -- >> why won't you get that car and check it out? >> that's what i'm saying.
the goal is with these added centers and added engineers is within 24 hours we want to be at that vehicle and we will inform them of the situations if they'd like to join us. they have joined us in some of the cases in the past. so we can get that car and see exactly what is going on. >> but if you got mrs. smith's car -- >> the smith car, i have written down to find out what happened with that. i have to tell you -- >> again, my time expired. if i'm ceo and i have the authority, as soon as i walk out of this hearing, i pick up the phone and i say get that car. if i have to pay $100,000, get that car, put the best engineers on it. let's tear the damn thing apart and find out what's happening to it. because can you do all this other stuff. but if you don't go where the problem is, you know, you're probably never going to figure out what's going on. >> i can tell you listening to
mrs. smith, i'm embarrassed for what happened. and we are going to go down and talk to them and get that car so that they feel satisfied. i want her and her husband to feel safe about driving our products. i was embarrassed to hear the story. >> well, my time expired. we want -- i mean we're happy -- you know, i have a gm assembly plant in my district. so i've got a good relationship with general motors. i have a toyota subassembly vendor plant in my district that makes component parts for toyota. so i'm not on any -- i want the truth. and i want whether my constituency wants to buy a gm product or a toyota product or any other product in the automotive sector to feel those products are safe -- period. and i have confidence in your engineering department. you can solve it if your legal department will let you solve it.
thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. dingle waived the opening statement and waived questioning the last witness. i'll give him leeway with this potential. >> i thank you for your courtesy. mr. lentz, please tell me the date that toyota first heard of incidents of sudden acceleration in its vehicles sold in the u.s. >> i don't know the answer to that. >> please submit that to the record. now, mr. lentz, please tell me the date on which toyota commenced the first recall to address this problem in the united states. >> if i don't know the answer to the first one, i don't know the answer to the second one. >> please submit that for the record. i had heard i had heard that the first notice was in november and the recall was in may of the same year. >> i am sorry, i thought we were talking about sudden
acceleration. >> i am talking about sudden acceleration. >> i am -- that has been around in the industry for many years. the dollar since 2001, how many complaints of sudden, unintended acceleration has toyota received? >> i do not know that number. >> please submit that for the record. how many of these complaints as to why it awarded to nhtsa? >> i do not know. >> please submit that for the record. prior to the recall, when you empower to authorize recalls for toyota products manufactured or sold in the united states? >> no. >> who was? >> japan are responsible.
>> is it true that the recall process for vehicles requires the decisions concerning each recall to be made in japan or with japanese oversight? oversight? >> yes. >> mr. lentz, yes or no, is it true that toyota had not reached a decision about whether to recall vehicle models linked to sudden unintended acceleration prior to being visited by acting nhtsa administrator ron medford in december 2009? yes or no? >> i think you have to be more specific about is that the floor mat recall issue or is that the sticking pedal issue? >> well, apply it to both. >> okay. in the case of the sticking pedal issue, i know mr. medford went to japan. i can't tell you specifically if
that is the reason. obviously, they were clear with us that we were going to do something with those vehicles. >> and you had not previously until that time done anything? >> in the case of the sticky pedal situation, we first -- i first knew about that in november of 2009. we had reports of three vehicles -- >> and he went there in december of 2009. >> correct. >> had you done anything about a recall prior to that time? >> no, sir. it was still under investigation. >> all right. now, mr. lentz, yes or no, did acting administrator medford's december 2009 visit to japan in discussions with toyota executives have any influence on the decision to recall vehicle models linked to the sudden unintended acceleration problem? >> again, if we were speaking of the sticking pedal, i don't know specifically. i was not in the meeting.
i would think it probably did. >> in correspondence addressed to this committee, certain officials communicated their concern that the united states government's financial stake in chrysler and general motors represents a conflict of interest that may be influencing its regulation of toyota. if that is true, i am outraged. do you believe that that statement is true or not? >> i don't believe that's true. i think the government's acting fairly. >> thank you. now, mr. lentz, yes or no, is the early warning of possible defects different in japan than in the united states? >> i'm not familiar with the process in japan. >> you would submit that for the record, please? mr. lentz, are the japanese requirements in regard to this matter more or less stringent than american standards? >> again, my responsibility is the united states. i don't know the standards for
japan. >> now, mr. lentz, if the japanese requirements are less stringent, does that affect how toyota evaluates potential defects in its vehicles and influence what information the company provides to u.s. regulators? yes or no? >> i would think not. the decision to make a recall in the united states is based on our experience in the united states. >> yes or no. has toyota definitively ruled out nonmechanical failures as the source of sudden unintended acceleration in vehicles recalled in late 2009 and early 2010? >> we never rule out anything that could cause sudden unintended -- >> so you would not rule that out? >> we are vigilant and continue to look for causes. >> has toyota definitively determined that electromagnetic interference or other failures
in electronic throttle controls are the cause of sudden unintended acceleration in the vehicles recalled in 2009 and early 2010, yes or no? >> we are studying through the exponent study that you have now which was preliminary. there's a lot more investigation to go on. so it's being looked at as well as there is going to be an advisory board on quality and safety. >> thank you. >> for the united states. >> i understand from your testimony that toyota has called upon exponent to conduct tests on certain toyota vehicles to determine possible causes of unintended acceleration. that is true, is it not? >> exponent, yes. >> did the report conclude that electromagnetic interference is a potential cause of sudden unintended acceleration, yes or no? >> it has not tested
electromagnetic as of yet. >> so they did not test that. so they do not know. >> it has not been tested yet. it is going to be tested. and we'll provide you the final testing when it's available. >> thank you. how many models of toyota vehicles did exponent tests? >> i do not know that. when i was -- >> how many did they not test? >> when i was there, i saw five different models being tested. >> would you please submit the response to those questions for the record, please? now yes or no? do you feel that this is an adequate sample of vehicles for the purposes of exponent tests? >> if you look at -- >> you say you saw five vehicles. >> if you look at the etcs system, the system from vehicle to vehicle is very, very similar. the throttle body may be a different size but the general architecture of the system is
similar. >> mr. lentz, i'm a poor polish lawyer from detroit. would you please tell me yes or no so i can understand it? >> i -- i don't know how to answer that in a yes or no. >> all right. >> i think they are testing multiple vehicles. they're testing the system not particularly how does it work on a camry versus an fj cruiser. >> thank you. now yes or no, are the event data recorders installed in all toyota vehicles sold in the united states? >> as to have day, no. >> as of today? >> as of today they are not. >> then -- as of today, no. >> they are not in 100% of the vehicles. >> yes or no. would these edrs contain information such as recordings of vehicle component failures that would be useful to investigators in determining the cause of an accident? >> i don't know exactly what they provide. i can tell you they provide information five seconds prior and one second after an
accident. i can tell you that by -- >> would you please, mr. lentz, submit to me and for the record the answer to that question? now, can data from, again, yes or no, from edrs installed in toyota vehicles be easily read by nontoyota personnel such as nhtsa investigators? >> yes. with the proper scan tool of which we are going to produce and get 100 of them in the united states by april. we will make -- >> so they have not been previously made available? >> there's only one prototype in the united states today. >> what percentage of your vehicles imported into the united states were manufactured here have edrs? >> i don't know the exact percentage. i think it's all vehicles except for -- if i can look at notes, i can give you -- >> please submit that for the record. mr. lentz, in general prior to toyota recall this is year and
last, by whom and where could such data from toyota edrs be read in the united states? >> i don't know the answer to that because -- >> all right. if you please, mr. lentz, submit that for the record. >> there's one prototype tool available in the united states. >> so if you ever wanted to look at that, had to look at that prototype, right? >> and i don't know how accurate the prototype tool it is. >> you don't know how accurate it is? >> the standard for edrs comes in september of 2012. >> now, mr. lentz, yes or no, did nhtsa require toyota in 2006 to conduct a test on electronic throttle components for 2006 camry? >> you could repeat the question? >> did nhtsa require toyota in
2006 to conduct a test on an electronic throttle component for a 2006 camry? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> please submit the answer for the record. now, mr. lentz, if so, did toyota or a designated third party conduct the test? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> if it was conducted by a third party, will you please tell the committee its name and submit an answer to those two questions for the purposes of the record, please. >> congressman, i don't have the answer. we can get that information for you. >> now, are reports on this kind of inquiry generated by toyota by third parties or by its own internal investigations submitted to nhtsa? >> i'm not sure i understand the question. >> well, you have these studies being made in house or by
others. and the question is, are the reports on those studies submitted to nhtsa or not? >> the study that is being done by exponent will be given to public, congress and nhtsa. >> have they done so prior to this time? >> i don't know what specific study you're speaking of. >> i'll let you choose. have any of them been given to nhtsa? or have they not? >> i don't know given, you know, given my responsibility which is on the sales end of the company, i can't -- >> you have been very gracious and kind with your time. but what i'm trying to figure out is are you responsible for these matters? you don't seem to have the information that i have been questioning for. and i'm curious, you told us that you were responsible for sales. you are responsible for manufacturing? are you responsible for safety? are you responsible for decisions of this sort? are these decisions made elsewhere in japan? >> i am not responsible for
manufacturing. i am not responsible for defect or quality decisions. defect decisions, recalls specifically, are, in fact, made in japan. >> mr. chairman, you have been most generous with your time. mr. lentz, i thank you for your courtesy. thank you. >> mr. rush for questions, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i see some attendees are who are sitting in the front row with buttons on that say i am toyota in america. are these some of your employees? >> these are some of the employees from the assembly plant that do a great job. >> i want to commend you on your diversity. i think you have a very diverse workforce. i want to welcome all of your workers here. >> thank you. they're hard-working americans. >> thank you. we've heard some compelling and disturbing testimony from the
smiths this morning. and the committee learned over the course of this investigations that mr. and mrs. smith were not alone in their experience with sudden unintended acceleration. and also with their frustrations of dealing with toyota. in fact, toyota received thousands of complaints from its customers about frightening, sudden unintended acceleration incidents. many of these incidents, unlike the smiths' resulted in serious injuries or even fatalities. i would expect that your company will respond with a sense of urgency and complete a serious investigation on these problems. but let's not exactly what toyota did in the smith's case. one of the most tragic things
the committee laerd duriheard d investigation is how dismissive toyota has been on the customer report of sudden unintended acceleration. mr. lentz, just to tell you, i have just received a few moments ago text written to one of my staff members. from my district in chicago. and i'm going to try to pull it up. it says here -- it's from one of the executives at a local newspaper in the chicago area. and it says stephanie, if representative rush wants to put
a face to this toyota mess, my she and the three others were writing in a toyota when it left the road, flipped upside down, and landed in a pond. police said that there was no evidence of any breaking -- br aking. my sister-in-law was a senior executive. this is another indication -- you have indicated to this committee this afternoon you retrieved the smith car. would it be asking you to much to read -- to retrieve the car
involved in this accident? >> it is the accident i am thinking of, but toyota engineers and nhtsa did in fact inspect that vehicle. . know what they determined? >> i don't know what was determined. my understanding -- >> would you check into this? >> yes. we'll check into it. >> has there been any issue with avalon brand? >> there have been cases of both sticking pedals as well as floor mat entrapments, yes. >> mr. lentz, do you have any reason to believe that out of the thousands upon thousands of the thousands upon thousands of complaints that toyota or lexus owners are inventing these terrifying stories about their driving experiences?
>> no. but from an engineering standpoint, it's critical that we get information so that we can go and investigate. today, in many cases, information that is submitted on the website, unless there is an investigation open, we don't have the name of the customer or the full vin number. i think going forward, one thing that we should think about doing is make that available to the manufacturers so we can cross reference that against our data bases and we can investigate these much sooner and not have to wait for an investigation to be open to be able to do that. >> from a marketing perspective, don't you feel as though toyota and yourself, don't you feel as though you owe your customers who some have gone through some serious injuries a lot of hurt
and pain, don't you feel as though you owe them a sincere apology for your company, your vehicles, your product causing them sincere pain? can't you just apologize? >> yes, sir. yes, sir, we have. because i will tell you, and whether it is an accident, an injury, i mean we heard the smiths today. you didn't have to have a death to understand the terror that she had from that accident. i mean that's a terrible thing to have to put one of our customers through. and it doesn't even have to be an accident. we have apologized to our consumers just for the concern that we have given them with their current recall vehicles. we are sincerely sorry for that concern and anxiety we put people through. i mean myself, my wife drives a toyota prius. it's a recalled vehicle. my son drives a prius.
it's a recalled vehicle. my mother-in-law is in an es 2006. my father has a sequoia. they're recalled vehicles. you know, i want to make sure that my loved ones are safe as well. >> from a -- switching back over to the engineering, but you still have been pretty evasive here about the cause, the actual cause of all this pain and suffering. there is a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of angles you're operating from. i'm not sure if the apology -- what is it based on? is it sincere? is this really a problem from an engineering perspective that you are assuming responsibility for?
>> any time there is one death in one of our vehicles, that pains us to have that take place. regardless of how it happens. but it's critical today. and we weren't doing a good job in the past of investigating those quickly enough, especially when it had to do with unintended acceleration. and with adding these new engineers, these s.w.a.t. teams that we're going to be able to get on site as rapidly as we can, our goal is to make it in 24 hours. we need to be able to do that so we can understand what's happening and make the necessary changes so that it doesn't happen again. i can tell you i lost a brother in an accident a week after his 30th birthday. and that was 20-some years ago. and there's not a day that goes by that i don't think of that. so i know what these families go through.
>> thank you, mr. rush. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. lentz, it seems to me that toyota got the first recall in 2000 when the british ordered a lexus recall due to acceleration problem. they got a second alarm in 2003 with the canadian recall. toyota is a global corporation. those two alarm bells should have sent your engineers scrambling to figure out what was wrong and what was needed to be done to fix the problems. instead, the same types of problems cropped up in additional toyota models resulting in the recalls that bring you here today. so instead of deploying your
everything nears after toyota got those early warnings in 2000 and 2003, they waited until problems cropped up in the united states and then toyota deployed lawyers and lobbyists to convince the department of transportation that this was a small floor mat issue and not something more serious. and that, mr. lentz, has done a disservice to toyota's kists and u customers and ultimately to toyota's dealers and employees. so according to documents obtained by my office, toyota recalled a lexus in the united kingdom in 2000 and a sellica in canada in 2003 because of floor mats were entrapping the accelerator pedal and the exact same problem that has caused fatalities in this country. why didn't toyota take immediate action to prevent the much later
accidents that toyota clearly knew the problem existed as far back as 2000? >> specifically on those two incidenc incidences, i can't tell you the specifics of those. i do not know. but i can tell you that a weakness in our system has been within this company we didn't do a very good job of sharing information across the globe. most of the information was one way. it would flow from the regional markets like the united states, canada, or europe back to japan. >> okay. so what you're saying is that ultimately the decisions are made in japan? >> in the case of -- >> and notwithstanding problems that are identified in the united kingdom, in canada, the information goes back to toyota headquarters in tokyo and
whether or not you in america are given orders to correct the problem, identify it in other countries, is not in your hands. is that what you're saying? >> correct. but that is changing. there is going to be a number of different groups set up. there is an overall quality group that toyota is going to chair. >> well, you know, that's -- that's an important change. obviously it is a policy that i'm sure all americans are shocked to learn existed. that is that this system of quality control, the toyota represents to be at the heart of their corporation was not something that shared information about defects in products that were being sold in the united states even though it was identified in other countries. and that's just unacceptable. just plain unacceptable to the consumers here in america. let me move forward quickly if i can. you told the "today" show that the sticky accelerator pedal and
the mat problems were the only problems. and you fixed them. you said today that you have only just begun to test whether or not the electronics are the problem and that you acknowledged that you can't rule out that possibility. so the reality is you don't know what is causing all the vehicles to suddenly accelerate. and you don't know if you've solved the problem, do you? >> there are many, many causes. in terms of the recalled vehicles -- >> but you don't know if you solved the problem? >> i don't think anyone, any manufacturer knows 100% exactly what is causing it. because if we did -- >> what i'm saying since you're only beginning the investigation, you don't know if you've solved the problem, is that correct? >> etcs has been looked at in the past in japan as they develop the products. but -- >> you said you had solved the problem. the truth is you don't know if
you have solved the problem. isn't that correct? >> let me clarify my statement. in terms of solving the issues of those recalls, we solved the problem. and if in documents that we have also sent you, when i did a number of interviews with journalists, i made it quite clear that my feeling is -- and this is a quote -- my feeling is these two fixes solve the issues that we know of. are we going to remain vigilant? of course we will. but we are confident that entrapment is a cause. we are confident that the pedal issue is a cause. and we are confident in those two fixes. but we are also confident that from what we know today it is not an electronics issue. >> what you know today, but, again, you're only at the beginning of your investigation. so you don't know what caused the problem, do you? >> we have not seen failures in
the etcs and we have -- this isn't the first time etcs has been looked at. it is the first time that we've gone to exponent to look at it. when we put in our quality north american advisory board, they will have total independent control of a another study of their choosing. now that's going to take place. that committee is going to be in place by the end of march. so there's going to be another study soon right after this. >> and is the same thing true for the problem with the electronic throttle control system in your vehicles? do you know what's wrong there? >> that's what i'm talking about. the etc is electronic control, sorry. >> you don't know what is wrong there either? >> again, we have not seen failures. it has been looked at in japan in the past. >> if there is no possible problem with your electronic throttle control systems, why do you need to find a way to override the electronic throttle
if there is no problem? why do you have to find a way to override it? >> you always have to keep your eyes and ears open. in the event there is something. >> you can't have it both ways. you can't say there's no problem but you're trying to find a way to override something that's not a problem. it leaves people with the impression that there must be a problem. >> but that's why you have to continual test and test and test in the event that something develops. it could be -- it could be a change in the emi. it could be a number of different things that we have to continual test and verify. >> i appreciate that. but i just wish that there was a little bit more humility here with regard to what you don't know, that you just say you don't know and then the public as they're driving around carries that kind of cautionary warning with them as they're driving pending the completion of all of your studies. thank you, mr. chairman, very much. >> thank you. next for questions we go to miss
beget. >> thank you, mr. lentz. i probably hold the record among the committee members because i have three camrys. so i'm very, very concerned that we get this right just like you are for your family. i want to ask you a couple questions. the first one is you just told mr. marky that this is not the first time that you folks have looked at the etcs. and you folks provided a number of documents in response to our february 2nd, 2010, >> i cannot tell you -- i do not know. >> we understand you have provided thousands of pages of documents relating to this. we want to know if there are additional documents relating to the testing of this which you
just testified it is not the first time you have looked at it. have we received all of the documents relating to these previous testings, because that is what we care about? >> i will have to check. i do not know specifically. >> will you please provide those? >> of course. >> the only document toyota has produced to us that claims to address this sudden unintended acceleration problem is of february 2010 report of we have been talking about the was conducted. that report was commissioned in december, 2009, just two months ago by toyota's defense attorney, is that correct? >> yes, i believe so. >> how much money was paid to exponents to produce that report for your defense attorneys?
would you mind supplementing your response with that information? was it over $1,800 as far as you know? >> i am sure it probably was. >> i am sure, too. >> my understanding is we have given them an unlimited budget to test and find out what they can. >> i am glad you have. just as you would not question the efficacy of what the previous witness testified to, because he was paid a few thousand dollars, you would not think that would taint this scientific result, would you? would taint the scientific results of your experts either, would you? >> well, and that's why we have an advisory board -- >> yes or no is a good answer for me. >> i can understand why you would feel that way. >> i mean you wouldn't think that your people would be tainted any more than the last witness would. >> no. >> by being paid some kind of a
money, correct? >> no. >> thank you. let me ask you this. let me ask you this. the exponent report was considered to be an interim report, correct? so they're still conducting tests. >> correct. >> is that right? okay. will you provide the committee with the final test results when they are obtained? >> yes, we're going to make that public. >> whether do you expect that to happen? >> i don't know. >> now it's my understanding that toyota's counsel who is sitting right behind you told committee staff today that toyota had, in fact, replicated dr. gilbert's tests. and that toyota was able to produce the same conditions without triggering an error. is that correct? >> yes. >> when did exponent do that test? >> the wee hours of the night last night. >> so this is new information for us?
>> yes. >> i'm assuming toyota will be willing to shart results of that testing also with this committee, correct? >> yes, we will. >> now, in your opening statement, you said that toyota had done extensive testing of electronics and found no issues. do you wish to change or clarify this remark in light of the findings disclosed to the committee today? >> again, i'm relying on the information from japan that they told me they have done testing. i have not seen it myself. i have not seen test results. i'm relying on their information to me that they have tested it extensively. >> okay. in light of the new revelations revealed by your attorney mr. hester that exponent was able to replicate the same conditions as dr. gilbert last night. does that change your testimony today? >> i'm not sure i understand. >> okay. late last night, according to your testimony -- >> okay. now i understand.
>> okay. >> we will provide that. i will tell you, again, i don't know exactly how mr. gilbert has done this. >> are you disagreeing with xpoen snent. >> no, i'm not sure what mr. gilbert has done is necessarily something that is real world that can happen. and i can also tell you that exponent was also able to do this on a competitive vehicle with the same result. so this is not unique to toyota. >> okay. now i have one last question for you. i would assume, in light of the questions raised by dr. gilbert's testimony today as well as the witnesses, mr. and mrs. smith, and we have a lot moran he c more anecdotal information. i'm going to assume that toyota
is going to take this seriously, that they're not going to deny that these acceleration issues could be happening because of the etcs and that they're going to expeditiously investigate this and going to provide the results of this committee. >> yes. >> is that a fair statement of your intention? >> yes. >> i look forward to hearing from you. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. doyle for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome. thank you for all the questions you've answered. so you heard the testimony of the first panel and dr. gilbert sounds like a pretty reasonable guy. and you just found out that your testing company was able to duplicate what he did. doesn't it make a whole bunch of sense, and i think that joe barton said the same thing that, you guys talked to dr. gilbert when the shearing over, probably offer him more than $1800 and
ask him to come down to toyota or with exponent and the three of you sit together and see if there's something -- what's the down side to testing this gentleman's theory out? >> there's no down side. that's why i don't want to down play what he has done. again, i'm not sure about his testing paradigm. but we welcome anyone that can find any issues with our electronics. i mean if there is a problem, we want to find it and we want to fix it. so, yeah, there's no problem with that. >> it's in your best interest to find -- no one has more to lose than you and your employees and dealers to not fix this problem. i mean you should have every incentive. i believe you do want to fix the problem. i mean this is -- your company has a very good reputation. it's been put into question. and you know perception is reality. if the public thinks that your car isn't safe, you need to go out of your way to prove that it
is. >> yes, sir. >> and so i just -- i just think, you know, before you leave washington you ought to get this guy's phone number and he should be sitting down with your people and you ought to test his paradigm and see whether it has any merit. >> and what's important is when i was at exponent, i drove a vehicle as they did the test to short circuit the accelerator pedal. and so i had the sense and the feel of what happens when it gets in the limp mode, how they can measure what happened. and that's why i just have to really understand as does exponent what mr. gilbert did. because my understanding is we were splicing wires together. >> okay. yeah, and if i were you, i'd want to know what he dshgs too. there's no good outcome from you not trying to get this problem fixed. it's not good for america. it's not good for all the people that work for your company here in this country.
and all the people that drive your cars for you not to go the extra mile and test any theory that seems to have any merit to it. >> i agree 100%. and that's also why going forward any time we have a reported incident of ua, we're going to send a s.w.a.t. team out there, the goal is within 24 hours, so we can learn as much as we can. that is why it is also helpful if we could get full vin numbers. sometimes they get a complaint we don't ever receive. and the current thing, unless an investigation opened up, we can't get that information. it would really be helpful, for the entire industry, not just us. >> okay. mr. chairman, in the interest of time, i'm going to yield back. >> thank you, mr. doyle. miss christianson for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to take this opportunity to welcome the dealers and the workers in the audience and recognize that they were here when i made my opening statement. but i did say at the time that we want this toyota to really fix this quickly, not only for the customers but for the
workers and the families that depend on them having a job. until all of you have been in your position? >> since july of 2006. as an evp, then president, then president coo. but basically the same responsibility. >> i read an article, i don't remember what paper, about a week and a half ago maybe. it was really talking about the history that toyota has in not responding to complaints. but it started out by saying that in the late '80s, toyota would actually go to a customer's home and say your car has a problem. we pick it up. they pick it up and take it and fix it. by late '9 o's and beyond that, toyota started maybe fixing problems that they found in future cars and not even telling the other customers about the
problems. and then we have the failures that have brought us here today. so that's a total culture shift over that period of time. can you tell us what happened? i mean what happened to the toyota of the '80s to bring us to the toyota of the 2010? >> one comment before that is there are dealers that still make house calls. my father who lives in colorado, his salesman lives about three or four miles away and every time he needs service, the sales person drops his demo off, picks up my dad's car and takes it in for service. so that does still happen. we're not totally out of the '80s yet. but i think what happened, i think we lost sight of the customer. i don't think it was a goal for us to grow faster but we did. we had a lot of customers that
loved our product. our loyalty rates were growing higher and higher. and our volume grew. the complexity of the product line grew from the number of models to the number of engines to the number of transmissions to everything else that goes with it. and i think we outgrew our engineering resource. and i think when that happens -- and we had strategies to deal with that. but the strategies didn't work. and i think as a result of that, we're suffering from that today. i think -- i think the most important thing is we lost sight of our customers. and i'll give you an example even in the floor mat issue. in the very beginning back in 2007, we recalled vehicles because of the all weather mat. the mat was too thick and there was risk it would bind up underneath the accelerator pedal. it would happen if the mat wasn't properly put down. so from an engineering
standpoint, if the mat is properly in place, it's no big problem. but we didn't understand a simple thing like how customers use a floor mat because in climates like this, people double stack mats. they put the rubber mat on top of the carpet mat. not just in our cars but others. we didn't understand something as simple as that. >> and just to get one other question in, you know, i'm really disturbed by what sounded like a real snap diagnosis. i'm a physician in the case of the mats. when we're presented with a problem, we can welcome diagnose it by listening to history but we always look at every other possible cause before we really make a diagnosis and we start to treat. and, you know, that doesn't sound like it happened here. and in your business and my profession, lives depend on the decisions that we make. and it's really important to really examine all of the
possible things, rule out for every other possibility. can ayou assure me -- i hear yo saying it's not that electronic thing. can you assure us today that not only with this but with every complaint that you're going to do a complete diagnosis? >> yes. i can tell you that the company's process is from top to bottom are being evaluated. and starting with the president of the company who is going to speak tomorrow to one of the committees. he is responsible for global quality committee. it's a brand new committee that is going to look just at quality and safety. and there are representatives from each of the large regions around the world that are on that. there is an independent advisory board that will report to that. to look over his shoulder -- >> what independent advisory board. we talk about people paying and stuff. how do you get this independent -- >> you go out and hire safety and quality experts from outside
of the company to oversee what's happening to make sure that we're doing the right thing. and that's -- the north american region of that and these committees are going to be announced by the end of march. they are going to be responsible for an independent, totally independent safety testing of the throttle control system. >> my time up is. thank >> mr. lentz, i would like clarification on some of the points that have been raised today during your testimony. a few moments ago, in response to a question, you were talking about that we welcome anyone who can find a problem so that we can fix it -- something to that effect. is that accurate? the my yes. >> when you say "week" who do you mean -- "we," who do you
mean? >> toyoda. -- toyota. >> you are the president of u.s. motor sales. do you make say the determinations. does your department make safety determinations? >> no. we get feedback from customers who contact us. we look through the internet and look at nhtsa of data and a number of different sources. we get reports from the dealers. all of that intermission get put together and reports from my side and they go to -- all of that information gets put together and reported to those
in japan. >> communication was pretty 1- way. you testified about the alarms going off in other parts of the world. that's were going off in other parts of the world and we just sort of had -- we have a plea of ignorance that we didn't know here. and it might have made a difference in some of the accidents that could have been avoided. so i'm a little bit perplexed by the idea, does washington staff, safety staff that deals with nhtsa report to you as the head of sales? >> no. >> okay. >> no. >> okay. who does that safety staff that reports to nhtsa report to within your company? >> reports to tma washington, d.c., office. >> okay. so they are testifying tomorrow he is the chairman of toyota
mote yar sales of usa but president of tma. that report is in through him, new york and washington, d.c. >> so he's responsible for safety decisions in the usa? >> no. >> it's still in japan. >> still in japan. >> okay. why would toyota send the head of sales to discuss safety issues here today? >> i was invited to attend. >> okay. so it was a decision made by the committee? is that what you're -- you were invited by who to attend? >> this committee. >> all right. let me ask you this. you said in your testimony in reept months we've not lived up to the high standards our customers and the public have come to expect from toyota. and we're all concerned about that. and there are two groups of people who i think that we've all expressed concern for, most obviously the consumers out there who put their trust and faith in -- and their families in the toyota vehicles.
>> yes. >> and, of course, the workers. the workers in this country who rely upon toyota to make a living and take care of their families. i guess that's why i ask you the question about the we. we've also heard a lot of confusing testimony about the electronic throttle control system. six years ago nhtsa compiled data showing that toyota camrys had over 400% more vehicle speed complaints than those with manual controls. so it's rather difficult to -- do you think that's an acceptable sort of number to suggest that there isn't something to it? i mean 400% more. >> there's no question it's a big number. but i think, again, we have to understand what those complaints are surrounding. i don't know if all of those are sudden acceleration instances.
>> right. well why don't we know all of that? 400%. we might not know might not kno. but when you say i don't know if all are, that's a big samt, too. we must know more than we -- than that statement reflects. >> well, i can't tell you again if you are speaking off of the ntsa database, unless those are investigated, i can't tell you just from the database exactly what's going on. and that's why it's important that we are able to get that information. quite frankly iwould love to be able to get confidentiality agreements with insurance companies as well. where they can supply us with that kind of information so we can see what's happening. >> the american people and the american market has been very, very good to toyota. a lot of money has been made by the company. in decades past. when we read, i'd like to show the american community that
nothing matters more to toyota than the safety and reliability of the vehicles. we're committed not only to fixing vehicles on the road and ensuring they are safe but to making our new vehicles better. your testimony continues. when we read that and then we hear the testimony about the safety decisions being made in japan, in a vacuum, isolating those who are selling these cars to our constituents and their families, and who are having the workers and the dealers sell these cars, you know, it begs the question about why people would be concerned of where the facts match up with the testimony. and i yield back. >> no, i understand. that's why the process is changing where there is going to be a person from the united states that sits on the defect committee in japan to be able to make those decisions and if they
don't agree with that decision, there's going to be a possibility for us to then appeal that decision. it's not just the united states but from around the globe will be on that. >> okay, but i have to tell you, it comes very late. >> yes, sir. yes, ma'am. >> we appreciate that things get fixed, and that is the goal that things get fixed and no more, you know, loss of life is suffered. but again, one has to ask, would it have happened but for some of the mistakes coming to light and i'm glad for the change. i hope it's enough. i yield back. >> thank you. >> miss schiakowsky. >> your asking us to believe that no one at toyota usa knew about recalls in canada? it's just strains creduality
to -- >> again, specifically on the 2003 sellecca, i don't know the specifics on that. i don't know if that was a vehicle recalled here. i don't know if that was a certain floor mat issue. i just don't know details about that particular recall. >> accept that you gave before as a reason that these things are not shared. and it's just -- it's just really hard to imagine that whether it was deliberately shared or not, that given the fact many americans can see canada from their house that we did not know about the -- >> again, i can't speak specifically to that exact incidence. i don't know the details behind what it was recalled for. >> in 2008, a woman named guadalupe alberto was killed when her 2005 camry suddenly accelerated, jumped a curb and struck a tree.
her car didn't even have floor mats at the time. so why wasn't this incident further investigated then? it says -- i mean, we know as recently as november, or you say in november of 2009, toyota, or at least up until then, was still claiming that floor mats were the only problem. >> again, i don't know the specifics of that particular accident. i can look into it for you. >> that would be fine. >> but the floor mat issue came around earlier than that. the issue in november was as we got into the issue of the sticky pedal. >> right. until then. but here was a 2008 accident. she didn't have a floor mat. but, anyway, you know, we're all in the customer service business ourselves. >> right. >> we have constituent service personnel in our offices. we take it very, very seriously.
i heard you say that you apologized to customers for the problems with toyotas. did you apologize to customers who were treated like they were crazy when they made these complaints? did you apologize to the smiths? >> i have not spoken to the smiths, but i'm going to. again it was embarrassing to hear what happened to them. i don't know the specifics of the situation. but it's just to hear that, especially on the lexus side of the business, that's a very unusual way for business to be done. >> it's a very unusual way. let me quote to you from a letter that was sent to a customer. 2005 toyota tacoma driver told your company that his truck accelerated by itself, despite stepping on the brakes, slammed into four parked cars. here was the answer. the throttle was inspected and moved freely without any binding
and was found to operate as designed. the brakes will always override the accelerator, which may not have been true at the time. besides, you're making that change. in order for this tox have happened as reported, two totally separate systems, the brakes and the throttle would have to fail at exactly the same time. this is virtually impossible. and there's -- that phrase, that sentence, this is virtually impossible, seems to have been repeated over and over to your customers. you're in charge of sales. is this any way to deal with customers, just to tell them absolutely impossible? >> no, it's not. and i have talked to our group that i'm going to be involved in every event of unintended acceleration so that i know what happens. so you know, just overall customer complaints that come
in, i get probably 20 or 25 complaints a week. each and every one of those complaints, i have to receive a buck slip back to know exactly what the issue was, what the solution was and whether the customer is saeftd or not. and i -- >> you also review -- i review letters that go out to my constituents. do you review -- does someone in authority review letters that are sent out so that the credibility of the customer is not only questioned but just negated? >> i personally do not. i will find out. is that a recent letter? >> well, i'm looking at three answers that use the same phrase about virtually impossible. so i don't know the date. i'm sure our staff has those letters and dates on the
letters. and my time is up, but i hope you'll also make sure. they become part of the calculation of how you respond. thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. brady for questions. >> i want to begin by commending you for sharing your personal story of loss with the committee here today. and that takes great courage. i would encourage you to share that story with the decisionmakers in japan who are making the key decisions on product defects, product recalls, product retrofits and failure analysis because i think they need to hear that story from you. >> thank you. >> i also want to commend you for commending the dealers in this country who have done an extraordinary job responding to your recalls and performing retrofits and tying up their staff all over this country. some of them are my friends and my constituents. so i appreciate your recognition of the sacrifice they are
making. i want to focus specifically on the comment that you made on page two of your statement which you repeated here today. where you said we are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles. we have done extensive testing of this system and have never found a malfunction that caused unintended acceleration. i am having a hard time squaring that with toyota's 2002 technical service bulletin which noted that if customers complained of surging accelerators, reprogramming their engine, which you mentioned earlier, was a way to fix that problem and that, sir, sounds like an electronic problem to me. >> i don't know that for certain because i can't tell you if it's a software issue, if it's a transmission issue. there are a number of different reasons for surges. it could be a high idle up that takes place sometimes when air conditioning kicks on, as an example. >> but reprogramming the computer would not be a mechanical fix, would it?
>> no. >> and the other reality of that notice is that these 2002 to 2006 camrys which were the subject of that technical service bulletin, you not addressing the problem of the brake override retrofit with those models, are you? >> camry, i would have to look and see what year it goes back to. but we are going back in the case of camry. >> all right. >> now one of the things you also mentioned in your statement was that in december you asked exponent, a world class engineering and scientific consulting firm, to conduct a your counsel with you today is with a very well-known law firm that offense not just toyota, but other auto manufacturers in product liability and crashworthiness cases all over the country. i am in no way impugning them for their role. i find it very odd that when you were presented with the challenge of getting to the root
of this problem you went to your defense firm to make the contact to arrange for this independent testing. >> our legal staff put together the request. that report in its entirety will be made public. >> we look forward to it. >> there are issues that will come out. >> let's talk about the company he retained -- exponent. they are a successor to another corporation which did extensive work for toyota and all the big auto manufacturers. they also tested on the failure analysis and providing expert witness testimony. >> i know they have worked for other automotives in things like vehicle stability control and other things. >> one thing i can tell you is that i have a copy of a deposition that their chief
technical officer provided in 1998. in that deposition, he testified that failure analysis associates received between $30,000,000.39999999 dollars a year -- $30 million and $40 million a year for the work they had done. were you aware of that? >> yes. >> i do not know. >> would you be willing to provide us with documentation of what toyota has paid to accenture? not just in relation with this study that's being done or in relationship with mr. gilbert's follow-up analysis, but over the period of time that these recalls that are being considered or have been issued have been performed. can you do that?
>>. >> i'm sorry. could you repeat the question. >> i would make a formal request that we get as much information as we can from toyota international, toyota north america, documenting the financial relationship between their company and accenture or its predecessor, failure analysis associate, not just in relationship with the study that was done as has been the subject -- >> that's fine. we'll do that. >> now one of the things that you talked about was the fact that you were present during some testing that was done at accenture. >> exponent. >> exponent, yes. >> is that something you were part of when there was filming that was done to document the testing? >> no. i just wanted to go see how they test. i have never been in a vehicle that's gone into fail safe mode. so i wanted to understand what it feels like from the consumer's standpoint. what fail safe feels like as you are driving down the road.
>> were you involved in any way in the analysis in terms of defining the scope of that project or how the results would be submitted? >> no. the only portion i was involved in was that when that research becomes available in its entirety it would be made public. it would be made available to congress and nhtsa. >> and did toyota make a direct relationship for the performance of those service with exponent or was that something handled by bowman and brook? >> i don't know. >> because when you indicate in your statement that you requested them to do a comprehensive independent an analysis with an unlimited budget, i'm just wondering whether there are documents that would define the scope of that request and the terms under which exponent would be compensated for what they were performing. are you aware of that? >> i'm not aware of it. >> then i would also request that, mr. chairman, and i yield
back. >> thank you. that concludes questions by members of the subcommittee. we'll now go to questions from members of the full committee. >> as far as i know, accenture has not been hired by you to do any engineering or testing, have they? >> exponent. >> exponent. accent surlike an accounting financial firm, right? >> yes. >> you got -- you are asked questions by my democrat colleague about accenture. i want to make sure for the record it's been cleared. with regard to the firm that you hired, exponent, as far as i'm aware, even the united states government turned to this firm to help us come to the solutions as to why we lost the shuttle "columbia." is that correct? >> yes. >> so this is not a fly by night firm. this is someone who is one of the best in the united states that is -- when it comes to problem solving. >> yes. >> we want to define the best. and again there will be another
review of the ects done by this independent study group. they may choose to go with them. they may choose someone else. >> with regard to some testimony that you -- i wrote this down because it was bothersome to me. you said that with regard to testing that was done last night with regard to the methodology used by dr. gilbert on the first panel, you said, quote, it's not a real world scenario. so can you explain that a little bit further? in other words, he did testify that he used manipulation. he told me he did not cut three wires. but when you say that there was a methodology that's not a real world scenario, help me understand. >> well, -- yeah, i think he said tapped in, which is how he gets into the --
again, this happened just 12 hours ago. so i don't want to attack him without knowing exactly what his process was. but my understanding is he took the plug off the back of the accelerator pedal. there are six wires on the back of that. two that go to the sensor, two that go to the power and two that go to the ground. he tapped into the two that go to the sensor and basically through some device tied those two together. and then tied the -- one of the power wires into another one. so, again it just doesn't seem as if that is something that may necessarily happen in the real world. exponent has tested what happens if you lose ground. what happens if the sensors break down. but in a very different way. so i just would like to understand his methodology and make sure that it's not the testing paradigm that's causing
this. >> so when abc showed this, in order to have these results, your testimony would be that dr. gilbert had to induce fault by manipulation to create and generate an artificial vaultage for the result he was seeking. >> yes. and go around the sensor. >> so that normally isn't going to happen as i'm driving one of your products down the road. would that be correct? >> i believe so. i'm not an engineer. that's what i need to study through exponent because they did the same study. >> all right. earlier i made the comment about -- i think the american public, we have seen what happens when nbc "dateline" staged a crash between two trucks to claim general motors fuel tank design caused fire crash -- crash test on television. and we were all pretty upset over it. so now what we have is a repeat scenario with regard to abc, also using a manipulation, not using a real world scenario. so that type of -- that type of
thing can be left to the credibility of the viewer and the american public. now i'm going to shift. the reason i'm going to shift is let's go back to "columbia." when there is a crash in america, and we have a concern, we go to the product. so exponent looks at "columbia." tries to gather as much information as they possibly can. dataa and what's left. >> right. >> when there is an airline that crashes, ntsb will go in and try to re-create and rebuild that aircraft. when i look at what exponent is doing, and i look at the report and i look at the thousands of vehicles they are looking at, what bothers me is why -- why wouldn't you, when an automobile that has been identified as this sudden unintended acceleration, why isn't that product pulled aside and ripped apart so you
can understand what is exactly going on. those are the thousand ones that if i were in your seat, that i would be going after and applying the greatest minds of the world to understand. >> in many cases, one of the field technical specialists or one of the quality specialists, they do go out. and if there is a component failure, they would take that component off and send it to the quality side to see what's going on. but in the case of the electronic throttle, if they don't get a code reading out that shows a failure and they can't re-create it, it's very, very difficult to be able to do that. now they may take the throttle body off if it's cracked or if it's somehow defective. they'll take a pedal off if it's defective. if an ecu is defective, they'll take that off. in many cases, that's what's so frustrating about unintended acceleration is it's very, very difficult to duplicate.
unless they can duplicate it, they have no way of knowing exactly what's taken place. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. gonzalez for questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. lentz in my limited view of things you hosthe consumer protected? how is the best interest prom e promoted? i've just concluded that, one, it's the manufacturer's own moral behavior, first fd foremost. then we go into the governmental regulatory oversight. and then we have our justice system. i'm a great believe in the civil justice system. the problem, that's always after the fact, way after the fact. so i'm looking at the manufacturer's moral behavior, and i'm looking at the capabilities, proficiency and competency of the regulatory scheme that congress has in place. when any of this breaks down, congress will move forward. and you heard mr. waxman say,
look. we may need legislation. and that's a process that we're engaging in at this time. it's going to get hot and heavy and you're going to see all the different interest. last week i was on the radio. when i simply said let us not rush to judgment. that goes whether it's toyota, whether it's gm, ford. i don't care who it is. an individual or a corporation. the interviewer then said, are you apologizing for toyota? so we've got that issue. now we have members of congress that may be a little aggressive in fulfilling their duties. you have letters going out that are saying it does sometimes appear, however, that the negative news is being encouraged by plaintiffs trial lawyers, union activists and those interested in cutting into toyota's marketshare. that's the environment. it's not healthy. it's not good. and all these reasons, which are totally wrong and ridiculous are being attributed to those individuals simply trying to do their jobs as members of congress. so i'm hoping this process will be fair. but in the meantime, there is a rush to judgment. this is the danger.
not just to toyota but everybody that will be similarly situated some time in their lives, whether as an individual, a company or a corporation. months from now we may discover that it wasn't electronic and all of the action taken was timely and diligent. but it really won't matter. we have an old saying. and i said this the other day. everyone will remember the accusation. no one will remember the exoneration. and for a business in the united states, people are making decisions today on what car they're going to buy. by the time we figure out what the truth may be, that decision has been made. and i'm going to tell you that i believe what's going on today will affect that decision. that's why we all have to be so careful in how we do this and that we're fair to all parties, whether it's going to be the consumer, the smiths or even toyota. but to be fair to everyone.
i want to know what you can tell toyota owners today regarding the safety of their vehicles. >> what i can tell them, and i'm not going to go through the detail of all of my family drive products. i would not have my loved ones driving products, recalled or not if i didn't feel they were safe. so that's number one. number two is we have processes in place, new processes in place, that are going to ensure a lot more transparency and responsibility to make sure we make faster decisions that are the right decisions. everybody has defects. everybody is going to have recalls. but how quickly we react to protect that consumer, how much the consumer sees us standing behind their product, that's what's most important. i can tell you the other thing. we have a lot of dealers sitting behind me. the way we start to build trust
in our brand is through our dealers because our dealers are the true contact with the customer. and they are doing a tremendous job in taking care of these situations. i mean, almost 800,000 customers already taking care of in about 20 days is an amazing number. and you'll hear from the dealers that the customers are understanding. sure, there are one or two customers in each dealership that are pretty upset at what's going on. but for the most part, our loyal customers know for the >> let me ask you this. you drive a toyota and your family drives toyota cars. are you going to quit driving them? >> no, sir. >> you have heard that people on this committee drive toyotas and i have asked them if they're going to stop. my suspicion is that they will not. we're